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  • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 18:32 10.01.2019
    Akhmetov didn't receive any info from Kilimnik, Manafort about 2016 U.S. presidential election Akhmetov's press secretary

    Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov was not in contact with the former head of Donald Trump's campaign headquarters, Paul Manafort, and his Russian business partner, Konstantin Kilimnik, about the U.S. presidential elections in 2016, said Akhmetov's press secretary, Kateryna Ostroushko.

    "Rinat Akhmetov never requested or received any polling data, as well as other information about the 2016 U.S. elections from Paul Manafort or Konstantin Kilimnik. Any information about the contacts between them and Mr. Akhmetov in connection with the 2016 U.S. presidential election is false and strongly refuted," Ostrushko told the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Thursday.

    Ostroushko said the work Akhmetov's System Capital Management Group (SCM) with Manafort and his consulting firm was completed in 2005.

    "After this period, Manafort did not have any cooperation with SCM. Any work that he performed in Ukraine after this period was political, and neither SCM nor its shareholder, Rinat Akhmetov, paid for any work," she said.

    "In this connection, information about any 'debts' or other existing financial obligations between Akhmetov and Manafort is absolutely untrue," Ostroushko said.

    As earlier reported, media citing their own sources said Ukrainian businessmen Serhiy Liovochkin and Akhmetov probably received opinion polling data from the 2016 U.S. presidential election from Manafort. The data was reportedly passed on by Kilimnik, who is associated with Russian intelligence agencies.

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    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


    • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 14:36 10.01.2019
      Poltorak: Almost everyone at the last NATO HQ meeting talked about our accelerated NATO accession

      Ukraine's Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak has said NATO representatives have changed their positions on Ukraines accession to the North Atlantic Alliance, and noted comprehensive assistance received by Ukraine from the bloc.

      "For more than four years, I have been observing the mood at NATO headquarters with regard to Ukraine. At first, we were not taken too seriously. Subsequently, we did not understand how accession to the bloc could be achieved. But during the last meeting in Brussels everyone talked about the need for our accelerated accession to NATO. We receive help from them in all directions. This was especially noticeable recently - after an act of open aggression by Russia," he said in an interview with the state-owned Uryadovy Courier.

      Poltorak said he has met Britain's Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson five times over the last six months. He said the number of tasks Ukraine must achieve before becoming a NATO member is large.

      "In the coming year, we need to complete the reform of the Ministry of Defense and the military authorities. This is one of the most difficult reforms - we must be very careful here so as not to disrupt the command and control. And the changes are gradually being implemented. Recently, we spoke about the need to directly purchase the weapons and equipment we needed abroad. Everything we buy in the interests of Ukraine's Armed Forces meets the standards of NATO," he said.

      Poltorak said there are problems, of which resource provision is the biggest, but said Ukraine is making progress.

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      Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


      • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 14:28 10.01.2019
        SPF, IMF agree on cooperation to settle problems of blocking privatization of large companies

        Acting Head of the State Prope
        rty Fund of Ukraine (SPF) Vitaliy Trubarov and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resident Representative in Ukraine Goesta Ljungman have signed agreements to solve the problems blocking privatization of large companies.

        "We agreed with IMF Resident Representative Mr. Ljungman jointly to solve problems that block the process of privatization of large companies," Trubarov wrote on his Facebook page.

        At the same time, he recalled that among the conditions for continuing cooperation with the IMF is the start of the sale of large companies from the list of privatization in 2019.

        He also said that a consortium of investment advisors selected at tenders last year cannot start preparing companies for privatization due to lawsuits.

        "In fact, since April of last year, the Odesa Port-Side Plant has been idle, and the investment adviser Pericles Global Advisory in the consortium with White & Case LLP, Kinstellar, KPMG Ukraine and SARS Capital cannot begin the process of preparing for the privatization and restructuring of the plant's [debts], including to NJSC Naftogaz, which would allow the enterprise to start production," Trubarov said.

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        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


        • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 13:32 10.01.2019
          Russian special services recruit employee of Ukrainian state scientific enterprise in Kharkiv SBU

          Ukraine's SBU State Security has said it exposed a Kharkiv citizen recruited by Russian special services to carry out subversive activities against the country - collecting information about military personnel and military units of Ukraine's Armed Forces.

          "SBU counterintelligence officers found that during a trip to Russia for the purpose of employment, an employee of a Kharkiv-based state scientific institution was recruited by an enemy intelligence service to provide personal data of Ukrainian servicemen and their duty stations. He was instructed to transmit the received information to the curators through electronic communication channels," the SBU's press service said on January 10.

          The suspect immediately came to the attention of SBU when he returned from abroad.

          SBU agents documented the suspect's activities gathering personal information about Anti-terrorist Operation participants from among employees of their state institution. The suspect failed to complete his criminal task. On the eve of the transfer of the collected data abroad, the suspect was detained by SBU agents.

          "During a search at the place his residence agents seized an electronic storage device with personal data of Ukrainian soldiers," the SBU said, noting the information was "for official use" only and could harm state interests if divulged.

          A criminal case under Article 14 and Part 1 of Article 110 of Ukraine's Criminal Code was opened and the suspect was serviced a notice of suspicion.

          The investigation continues.

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          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


          • INTERFAX-UKRAINE 12:46 10.01.2019
            NABU announces 153 notices of suspicion in Dec

            Detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) have announced notices of suspicion of committing crimes against 152 persons in December 2018 during investigation of 635 criminal proceedings.

            According to a posting on the official website of the NABU, 302 persons were accused, as the investigations into crimes committed by them were completed.

            "During the last month of 2018, the NABU detectives, under the procedural guidance of the prosecutors of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO), filed notices of suspicion: to the freelance adviser to the director general of the State Space Agency of Ukraine and to the authorized person, who the investigators consider to be involved in causing the loss of $8.245 million to Ukrkosmos; the judge of one of the district courts of Mariupol and his assistant, exposed in obtaining unlawful benefits for making an administrative offense decision," the NABU said.

            Among the criminal proceedings, the investigation of which the detectives completed in December, is the case of the receipt of $15,000 in illegal benefits by the prosecutor of the Department for Supervision of Compliance with Laws in Criminal Procedure and Coordination of Law Enforcement Activities of the Prosecutor General's Office; the case where the head of the Child and Family Service of the Kyiv Regional Administration is suspected of embezzling funds allocated for internally displaced persons; the case where the former head of the State Ecological Inspectorate of Ukraine is suspected of declaring false information.

            "The suspects and their defenders have open materials for review," the NABU reported.

            In addition, the number of investigated criminal proceedings in which the indictment was drawn up and sent to court increased to 176.

            In particular, this is the investigation against an SBU official exposed on receiving $47,500 of unlawful benefit from those who illegally obtained the citizenship of Ukraine (Part 4 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and the ex-president of PJSC Sea Trident and the ex-director of the ship owning company, accused of causing more than UAH 219 million of losses to the Ukrainian merchant marine fleet (Part 5 of Article 191 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

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            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


            • Saving Ukraines Anti-Corruption Court: international experts filter candidates, facing roadblocks from old...
              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Olena Makarenko 2019/01/10 - 12:50


              International experts started assessing the integrity of 113 candidate judges to Ukraines High Anti-Corruption Court. Already after the first two meetings, they claimed doubts regarding 20 candidates. Civil society organizations, after doing their own investigation into all the candidates, stated that about a half are dishonest.
              Ukraine made a huge step in the fight against corruption when it adopted the law on the creation of the High Anti-Corruption Court in the summer of 2018. No, this organ would not eradicate all the corruption in the country. However, it is called to complete the investigative process against Ukrainian top-corrupts and may make punishment for grave corruption inevitable, as demanded by society.

              Why was the additional court even needed in the first place? Because so far, many problems within the Ukrainian judiciary are unsolved. First of all, the overloaded courts and their political dependence. The judicial reform Introduced after the Euromaidan revolution of 2014 could not heal these systematic problems yet. That is why Ukrainian civil society came up with the idea to create a specific court for a specific problem top-corruption. And to ensure that the new court will be filled with honest judges, a new filter for the selection process was introduced the Public Council of International Experts (PCIE). Its creation was also a request of Ukraines western partners. The Council, consisting of 6 members, has to assist the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ), the body of judicial self-governance, to assess the candidates integrity. In the other process of judicial reform in Ukraine, the Public Integrity Council, a watchdog made of representatives of civil society, has a similar role.

              If the PCIE members have doubts regarding the integrity and professionalism of a candidate, they initiate a joint meeting with the HQCJ. If at least three out of six international experts dont confirm the candidates integrity and professionalism, such a candidate should leave the competition.

              The HQCJ still has the key levers of influence over the appointments, since it controls all the other stages of the selection process. Moreover, this Commission has also made attempts to block the work of the international experts for example, by changing its own regulations. However, civil society ruined the plan due to its immediate reaction.

              The antiheroes among the candidates
              Four of the first eight candidates whom the PCIE wants to veto are so-called Maidan judges those who unlawfully persecuted Euromaidan activists, and the judges who covered up their dishonest colleagues.

              Back during another competition, that of to the Supreme Court, the civil society watchdog also raised an alarm regarding Maidan judges. However, the HQCJ tossed their warnings aside and approved them to serve in Ukraines highest court structure.

              And what about the rest of the candidates? The PCIE will hold its next meetings in January. Meanwhile, members of civil society conducted their own monitoring of the candidates. According to the law, civil society is not officially involved in the process of creation of the Anti-Corruption Court. Still, its representatives announced they are ready to share their experience and conclusions with the international experts.

              On 9 January 2019, the Anti-Corruption Action Centre, DEJURE Foundation, Transparency International Ukraine, and AutoMaidan, organizations involved in the anti-corruption and judicial reform, presented their joint monitoring.

              According to the monitoring of civil society, out of 113 candidates, 55 are dishonest. The civil society body used the following criteria: whether candidates were ethical in their work, whether there is no questions to their assets and declarations, how judges behaved inside and outside the court, what decisions they made in cases on top-corruption, and whether they made soft decisions in the cases on corruption.

              We expect that the Anti-Corruption Court will become an example of the renewal of Ukraines judiciary and a judicial institution which finally will provide fair justice at least in the cases of top-corruption, said Maksym Kostetskyi, legal adviser at Transparency International Ukraine. The expert added that out of 55 dishonest candidates, the majority belong to the old judicial system while 13 are lawyers or scholars.

              During the presentation, the representatives of the four organizations outlined some outrageous cases.

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              • Saving Ukraines Anti-Corruption Court Pt 2
                During the presentation, the representatives of the four organizations outlined some outrageous cases.

                Kateryna Butko, coordinator of AutoMaidan projects, explained why appointing the so-called Maidan judges poses risks.

                One of the arguments that the HQCJ provides to justify why they allow these judges to pass is that their actions did not lead to tragic consequences. They resulted in mere administrative penalties or prohibitions of peaceful protests in some city which did not result in a crackdown of demonstrations. We want to stress another aspect: the Maidan judges are a special category of judges who are 100% ready to implement any orders. These judges are useful for any government. Moreover, now these judges are again used in cases which have political aspects, said Butko.

                The expert gives an example of the candidate judge Oksana Holub who during the Euromaidan Revolution stripped the Euromaidan cavalry, activists with their own cars, of their driving licenses. After Euromaidan ended, the same judge had returned the indictment of Mykola Martynenko, a gray cardinal of Ukraines politics who is suspected in large-scale corruption, to prosecutors. Among the Maidan judges, there are also those who already made soft decisions in corruption cases. Butko says this proves that such judges can implement political orders even now.

                Iryna Shyba, Head of Projects of the DEJURE Foundation, said that during the monitoring, the four organizations analyzed the candidates public declarations and suspected that many had hidden their assets, understated their wealth, or registered assets with their relatives. This is likely to mean that the candidates who aim to become anti-corruption judges were involved in corruption themselves.

                During last year, the Chaykin couple earned only UAH 55,000 (about $2,000 ed) and UAH 54,000 dividends from deposits. However, in 2015 the family declared millions of hryvnias in savings. Also, since 2012, they forgot to declare their right of using apartments and other property, said the expert.

                Shyba continues with the example of lawyer Serhiy Fediaiev, who manages a law office. During the last year, he earned just UAH 15,000 (around $530), which is quite unrealistic for a lawyer with such a practice. At the same time, he received a UAH 1 mn (about $35,520) gift from his father. And the lawyer Vasyl Postulga had no declared assets altogether while being a beneficiary of a few enterprises.

                The stories of some candidates are worthy of a comedy film. Like the one with the judge Ruslan Hytryk, who in 2015 caused a car accident while drunk.

                At the same time of the same day, he made 12 decisions. Moreover, one of them concerned a drunk driver, Butko describes.

                The representatives of society are confident in the credibility of the members of the PCIE, however have serious doubts in the HQCJ.

                The HQCJ as an obstacle
                Even if the PCIE will manage to veto dishonest candidates, it is still the HQCJ which plays the main role in the selection process. The Commission will form the recommendation list of the candidates and give it to the High Council of Justice. The latter, in its turn, will approve the list for the president. After, the president will appoint the judges.

                The HQCJ managed to use different manipulations to obstruct the work of the international experts. The Commission was thwarted while trying to use some manipulations. Other manipulations can still be used. The key question is that after the international experts complete their work and toss out some amount of candidates, the ball will be on the side of the HQCJ. The Commission has such a tangled and complicated methodology of assessment of candidates, that they can subjectively, at its discretion, and on some outside [political Ed] request lift some candidates to the top of the list, or drop good candidates, said Anastasia Krasnosilska, advocacy manager at the Anti-Corruption Action Centre, to Euromaidan Press.

                Still, the expert stresses that there are candidates who deserve the place in the newly created court.

                We need at least 35 judges to form the court. Its not that much. There are people in the list who we dont question at all those that did not make politically motivated decisions, and have no unexplained assets. So if the HQCJ will say that there is no one else in the list, so they have to appoint Maidan judges it is not true.

                Previously, representatives of civil society repeatedly stated that to make the judicial reform successful, the bodies of judicial self-government should be formed based on new principles. So far, 50% of two such bodies, the High Qualification Commission of Judges and the High Council of Justice, are selected by the Congress of Judges. Representatives of society claim that so far Ukraine is not ready to have judges be elected by judges. As the experience of the selection of candidates to the Supreme Court, ongoing competition to the Anti-corruption Court, and the qualification assessment of judges show, this opens the door to conflicts of interest and the appointment of compromised judges, thus perpetrating the old system.

                Watch the Euromaidan Press documentary on the creation of the Anti-Corruption Court


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                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                • Attack on Hungarian centre in Ukraine: three Poles charged with terrorism in German journalist-planned plot
                  EUROMAIDAN PRESS Yuri Zoria & Alya Shandra 2019/01/09 - 22:34

                  An arson attempt at the Hungarian cultural center in Zakarpattia back in early 2018 raised eyebrows as it became known that the perpetrators were Poles. The attack, which came amid rising tensions between Ukraine and Hungary, was no doubt intended to pour more oil in the fire.
                  Now the Polish suspects are to be tried on terrorism charges, the Polish outlet reports. Intriguingly, they were directed by a German journalist. Far-right researcher Anton Shekhovtsov says he knows the identity of this man.

                  Since Russia unleashed its hybrid war on Ukraine back in 2014, it has been trying various means to weaken Ukraine and force the Russian agenda, ranging from the staged protests and provocations within Ukraine to back the pushed propaganda narratives, throughout diplomatic efforts to bury Ukraine in the international arena, up to the hot war in the east of Ukraine.

                  The efforts to incite and boost tensions between Ukraine and its EU neighbors have been among the priorities. Most of such attempts were directed at undermining the Ukrainian-Polish relationships. However, Hungary has also been at the top of the list.

                  In February 2018, there were two attempts to set on fire the Zakarpattia Society of Hungarian Culture in the city of Uzhhorod, the westernmost regional capital of Ukraine. The first attempt took place on 4 February 2018. The second try on 27 February 2018 reached its goal and 25 m of the ground floor burned down. Fortunately, no one was hurt by the arsons.

                  Polands Internal Security Agency (ABW) detained three Polish nationals shortly after the first incident as perpetrators of the attack. Later, Ukrainian police arrested three Ukrainians suspected of the second attack and put an alleged foreign perpetrator on the search list.

                  Now the Polish suspects are to be tried on terrorism charges, the Polish outlet reports.

                  According to the report of the Polish news portal, the three Polish citizens connected to radical right-wing groups are going to face terrorism charges after the Prosecutors Office has filed the indictment in their case to court.

                  The Mazovian Voivodeship regional Organized Crime and Corruption Investigation Division of the National Public Prosecutors Office together with the ABW investigated that the organizer received EUR 500, and paid 1000 PLN (about $270) to each of two direct perpetrators. The findings of investigators show that a German journalist ordered the attack, probably acting for the benefit of the Russian special services. hasnt disclosed the name of the journalist.

         cites an ABW officer explaining who gained from the staged crimes and why the Polish perpetrators were used:

                  This provocation was supposed to lead to the deterioration of Ukrainian-Hungarian relations. And such a development played into Russias hands, which is interested in the destabilization of its western neighbor, where the hybrid war in Donbas is already underway. And hiring the Polish thugs was beneficial for Russia because in case of the failure of the contractors it was possible to antagonize the relationship between Poles and Ukrainians, which are not the best anyway, the ABW officer told TVP.nfo.

                  Investigation finds
                  The main accused is dubbed as 28-year-old Micha P., a security specialist with higher education. According to investigators, he had ties with the Falanga neo-fascist organization and the pro-Russian far-left party Zmiana (Change)

                  The suspect can be identified as Micha Prokopowicz, a co-founder of the Falanga movement, which maintains close ties with the Kremlin and its puppet republics in the Donbas. According to Shekhovtsov, Falanga was for some time led by Bartosz Bekier, a fan of Putin and Assad and supporter of the Russia-backed republics in Eastern Ukraine. Zmiana was founded by Mateusz Piskorski, a long-time far-right politician who has been under arrest in Poland since May 2016. Piskorski is under arrest on suspicion of spying for Russia and China.

                  The indictment of Micha P. reads, In January and February 2018, in order to obtain financial gain, he ordered to conduct illegal acts in Ukraine involving nationality-based public hatred between citizens of Ukraine and Hungary. The suspect had handed over to Adrian M. and Tomasz Sz., PLN 1000 for the purchase of fuel to set fire to the building of the Hungarian Center in Uzhhorod with the intention to fund a terrorist offense of painting fascist symbols and setting fire to a social organization building.

                  The alleged direct performers of the arson attack mentioned as Adrian M. and Tomasz Sz. in the indictment were named by Zakarpattia Governor Hennadii Moskal weeks after the attack. They were Adrian Marglewski and Tomasz Szimkowiak, two other members of Falanga. Marglewski has pleaded guilty; Prokopowicz and Szimkowiak have not.

                  Recruiting Adrian Marglewski, Micha P. told him that the action was aimed at discrediting the Ukrainian Banderites. Before setting the cultural center on fire, a swastika had to be painted there, as well as the number 88 (neo-Nazi code for Heil Hitler as H is the eight letter in the alphabet). The arson was to be videotaped.
                  Altogether, Marglewski was to recruit five implementers from the neo-Nazi Falanga, but he only found two.

                  Although the Polish publication has not revealed the name of the German journalist who ordered the attack, researcher of the European far-right Anton Shekhovtsov has supposed that he is actually Manuel Ochsenreiter, the editor of the German far-right magazine Zuerst!.

                  Anton Shekhovtsov@A_SHEKH0VTS0V Jan 6, 2019
                  An important update on the anti-Ukrainian false-flag operation involving three Poles and a German (the source in Polish language): What happened: in February 2018, unknown thugs attacked a Hungarian cultural centre in the Ukrainian city of Uzhhorod. /1

                  Anton Shekhovtsov@A_SHEKH0VTS0V Jan 6, 2019
                  But I have been investigating these people for years now ( ) and can make an informed guess. I suspect that the German journalist involved in the anti-Ukrainian false-flag op was Manuel Ochsenreiter, the editor of the German far-right magazine Zuerst!. /8

                  Ochsenreiter is a frequent guest of the Russian state-controlled channels Pervyi Kanal and Russia Today, where he engages in anti-Ukrainian propaganda, a friend of Oleksandr Dugin, and has been a German observer at the illegitimate elections of Russias puppet republics in eastern Ukraine, as well as a frequent guest in occupied Crimea. Shekhovtsov bases his guess on the long-time connections between the German journalist and Mateusz Piskorsky, who have been collaborating for over five years.

                  Mateusz Piskorski, for instance, invited Ochsenreiter to observe the so-called referendum in Crimea in March 2014 [an illegitimate plebiscite which Russia utilized to secure its grip over occupied Crimea Ed]. They traveled together, for instance, to Syria. They took part in several joint events, collaborated very closely. Last year, German journalists wrote about these connections between Ochsenreiter and Piskorski, calling the former the conductor of Kremlin influence in Germany. Ochsenreiter was also acquainted with Prokopowicz, i.e. with the person that instructed the two smaller Falanga activists before the operation in Ukraine, Shekhovtsov told RFE/RL.

                  RFE/RL has contacted Ochsenreiter in social media, asking him whether was implicated in the arson. Ochsenreiter denied, but then made his Facebook profile, which showed he was friends with Szimkowiak, one of the suspects, only accessible to friends after being asked whether he knew anybody from the arson.

                  Both attacks on the Hungarian Center took place amid the Hungarian row with Ukraine around the new Ukainian education law. Stating that the law violates the rights of the Hungarian national minority in Ukraine, Hungary keeps blocking the Ukrainian EU and NATO aspirations.

                  In total in February 2018, the Security Service of Ukraine recorded 12 instances of the sabotage activities of the Russian special services, the arson of the of the Zakarpattia Society of Hungarian Culture among them.

                  Although some Ukrainain officials have called the arson a Kremlin operation, Shekhovtsov advises not to jump to conclusions too early, claiming that pro-Russian actors in Europe often do things on their own initiative, knowing they will be rewarded by Russia later.

                  æ, !

                  Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                  • Growing Russian nostalgia for Soviet past far more dangerous than it appears, Kirillova says
                    EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul Goble 2019/01/08 - 16:04

                    A Soviet placard featuring Stalin and peoples of the USSR, Ukrainians are represented by a woman in vyshyvanka embroidered shirt on the left. The text reads, "Under leadership of great Stalin, forward to communism!"

                    New polls show that the share of Russians who would like to go back to the USSR is at its highest levels over the last 15 years, a development many find troubling because it will make the future evolution of Russia toward a normal state far more difficult. But Kseniya Kirillova points out that it entails even greater threats than that.

                    In a commentary for Radio Svoboda, the US-based Russian journalist argues that the foreign policy consequences are both far more immediate and dangerous than those for the domestic situation of the Russian Federation and calls on both Russians and others to reflect on that dangerous reality.

                    The idealized image of the Soviet past is in addition to everything else a justification of the militarist hysteria, imperial complexes and a surrogate of the ideal future to which Russia is seeking but which numerous foreign and internal enemies are not allowing it to achieve, Kirillova argues.

                    This myth, she continues, is used as a counterbalance to a second myth, the myth about the global catastrophe, the virtual hell in which Russia will avoidably be dragged if the West gets the upper hand. Russian TV generously shows pictures of chaos and marauders on the street, poverty, falling bombs, dead children and the destruction of homes.

                    In this, the US is presented as the absolute evil and the sponsor of international terrorism.

                    According to Kirillova, the human psyche is so constructed that even the most horrific virtual constructions seem pale in comparison to wretched reality. And paradoxically even in peace time, with its declining standard of living, lack of confidence and uncertainty about tomorrow, psychologically this often seems more unbearable.

                    Russians from backwoods areas have often told her, Kirillova says, that better war than such a life.

                    But even those who believe that the West is the only aggressor no longer feel put off as they did a few years ago by the idea that a war against it would be better than unending expectations of a horrific end.

                    Even those Russians who arent prepared to fight a war on behalf of the current state of their country may be prepared to do so for a semi-mythological image of the USSR as an ideal to which present-day Russia is striving.

                    Thus, the Kremlin-promoted nostalgia for the Soviet past opens the way to war. At the very least, it makes it far more possible.
                    In this situation, Kirillova says, it is difficult to predict how quickly the refrigerator will gain the upper hand over this set of illusions. However, sooner or later the Russian citizen will come up against the fact that the powers do not intend to lead society into a Soviet paradise. Instead, the current regime is ready to spend its reserves on war.

                    And that war, despite all Moscows propaganda, will be started not by the West, as Russian government propaganda says, but exclusively by the Kremlin itself.

                    æ, !

                    Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                    • Ukrainian Orthodox Church head says Russian Orthodox Church will remain in Ukraine as many want it and hes not against that
                      EUROMAIDAN PRES 2019/01/05 - 17:37

                      To hear Moscow propagandists talk, you would think that the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) in combination with the Ukrainian government would use Gestapo-type tactics to suppress all congregations there now affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate.

                      But Metropolitan Epiphany of Kyiv, the head of the new OCU, says that is absurd and that the Moscow exarchate will continue to exist in Ukraine because many believers want it to and that he has nothing against that outcome.

                      We understand that in Ukraine the Russian Orthodox Church will in the future continue to exist and that many want to remain there. We do not have anything against this. A hierarch or priest with his flock must decide for themselves. If they decide they want to voluntarily join the newly formed OCU we will accept them in our structure of a single OCU.

                      The doors of the OCU are open for all Orthodox in Ukraine. Each must make a choice, and if one speaks of any OCU strategy about those beyond its ranks, it must be formed on the evangelical principle of love, peace, mutual understanding and fraternal mutual respect, Metropolitan Epiphany says.

                      Many parishes and some hierarchs of the Moscow exarchate have already shifted to the OCU, and the church leader hopes there will be more. One reason for that shift is the new Ukrainian law which requires the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate to identify itself openly as the Russian Orthodox Church, one whose headquarters are not in Ukraine but in Moscow.

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                      • Are the Uniates about to make common cause with newly autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox?
                        EUROMAIDAN PRESS 2019/01/05 - 16:5

                        With the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) receiving the tomos of autocephaly from the Universal Patriarch Bartholomew, the religious balance in Ukraine swings away from Moscow to Kyiv, with the Russian Orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate (ROC MP) losing many of its current positions and the OCU becoming a sign of Ukraines increasing independence from Moscow.

                        But a development two weeks ago, little noticed then but a matter of concern in Russia now, may give the new OCU even more clout and power not only within Ukraine but vis--vis Moscow in the Orthodox world. And that is this: the head of the 4.5 million Uniates suggested his church, which is Orthodox in practice but subordinate to Rome, should ally with the OCU.

                        On December 18, the head of the Greek Catholic Church, as the Uniates are known officially, sent a letter to incoming OCU head Metropolitan Epiphany proposing that the two churches work closely together and thus begin together the path to unity and truth.

                        Although today we are not in complete eucharistic community, we are called upon to jointly overcome the obstacles which stand on the path to unity, Uniate Archbishop Svyatoslav said. Noting their common roots, he said that he was extending his hand in the name of our Church to You and to all Orthodox brothers.

                        The archbishop added that in his view, the future of Ukraine depends on Church unity. Ukrainian outlets not surprisingly are thrilled by this given that the Uniates are concentrated in the western portions of Ukraine and tend to be more nationalistic than many of the Orthodox in the east.

                        But for precisely that reason, Russian commentators are worried about this possibility, with Yevgeny Chernyshov of the Nakaune news agency professing in an article today to see this as the work of the Vatican and very much directed against the Russian Orthodox Church and Moscows interests.

                        Whether anything will come of this remains to be seen, but if the Uniates do unite with the OCU, that will make the latter not only overwhelmingly the largest church in Ukraine but one with links to Rome as well as Constantinople, both of which will make the new church vastly more important and vastly more of a threat to Russia than it would otherwise be.

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                        Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                        • How Putin Lost Ukraine for Good
                          ATLANTIC COUNCIL TARAS KUZIO JANUARY 6, 2019

                          Russian President Vladimir Putin will go down in history as having lost Ukraine for good. Putin has experienced two geopolitical tragedies with the disintegration of the USSR in 1991 and disintegration of the Russian world in 2018.

                          On April 14, 2018, 268 deputies in the Ukrainian parliament voted to appeal to Constantinople to grant autocephaly, or independence, to the Orthodox church. Less than a year later on January 5, Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew signed the official document known as the tomos that created a Ukrainian Orthodox Church independent of Russia. Today, on Christmas Eve according to the old Julian calendar, the tomos was transferred to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

                          This event has major ramifications for Ukraines upcoming elections, the Orthodox world, relations with Russia, and geopolitics.

                          First, elections. The main beneficiary of the tomos is Poroshenko. He has moved into second place in the polls, which means he is likely to face former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in the second round of the presidential election in April. Ukrainians named Poroshenko as politician of the year and the creation of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church as the most important event of 2018.

                          It would be wrong to dismiss the push to free Ukraines church as a pure election ploy. Negotiations for autocephaly began under President Viktor Yushchenko (2005-2010). As Rostyslav Pavlenko, who served as Poroshenkos deputy head of the presidential administration for humanitarian and societal issues and was the point man on the issue until recently, observed, This slow but steady implementation is the result of the invisible preparatory work spanning years before April 2018. Of Ukraines five presidents, only pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych (2010-2014) never supported autocephaly.

                          Second, the Orthodox world. Before todays move, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which came under the Moscow Patriarchate accounted for a third of its total parishes and their loss reduces the size of the Russian Orthodox Church to that of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Within Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church will become a minority church with its influence severely curtailed. In the political domain, its main supportersParty of Regions and Communist Partybelong to pre-2014 Ukrainian history while its current allies, the Opposition Bloc, are bitterly divided and weak.

                          Third, relations with Russia. These are continuing to deteriorate as seen in Russias naval piracy in the Black and Azov Seas. But, the tomos cannot be halted by the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

                          Autocephaly adds to the deterioration of Russian soft power in other areas. On December 20, 240 parliamentary deputies voted to require the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (the official name of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine) to re-register as a Ukrainian branch of the Russian Orthodox Church. As most of their parishes are in western and central Ukraine, a large number of patriotic Ukrainians will desert it because it will be henceforth openly linked to Russia. Two-thirds of Ukrainians view Russia as an aggressor country.

                          Fourth, geopolitics. The tomos and Ukraines departure from the Russian world reconfigure Eastern Europes geopolitical map, which was created in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when Muscovy transformed into the Russian Empire over three stages.

                          In 1654, Ukraine and Muscovy signed the Treaty of Pereyaslav, which has always been viewed by Russian and Soviet leaders and historians as a reunion and by Ukrainians as a tactical military alliance against Poland. Crimea was transferred to Soviet Ukraine during the 1954 Soviet commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the Pereyaslav Treaty. In annexing Crimea, Russia effectively ripped up the Treaty of Pereyaslav.

                          In 1686, Muscovy removed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from under Constantinoples canonical jurisdiction, placing it within the Russian Orthodox Church for 332 years. In the autumn of 2018, Constantinople declared this to have been uncanonical and returned Ukraine under its jurisdiction.

                          In 1709, the Swedish-Ukrainian alliance was defeated by Muscovy leading to its transformation into the Russian Empire in 1721. With opinion polls showing two-thirds to three-quarters of Ukrainians viewing Russian leaders, Russias political system, and Russian policies toward Ukraine in highly negative terms, there is no likelihood of Ukraine moving away from its European path. Ukraine, the largest country in the EUs Eastern Partnership, sees itself as irreversibly part of Europe. Ukraines new Orthodox Church will be pro-European and will not subscribe to the Russian Orthodox Churchs anti-Western xenophobia.

                          In 1991, Ukraine declared independence from the USSR and in 2018 from the Russian world. Ukraine has chosen Europe over the Russian world. New Europe, lying between NATO and the EUs eastern frontier and Russia, has been geopolitically reconfigured to what the region resembled prior to Muscovys expansion westwards in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

                          Ukraines independence from Russia is Kyivs ultimate answer to Putins unprovoked imperialism and military aggression. If Mikhail Gorbachev lost the USSR, Putin will go down in history as having lost Ukraine for good. As Patriarch Barthomelew put it, a new page in Ukraines history has been opened, and it will forever be part of Europe.

                          Taras Kuzio is a non-resident fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins-SAIS and professor at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy. He is also author of Putins War Against Ukraine and co-author of The Sources of Russia's Great Power Politics: Ukraine and the Challenge to the European Order.

                          æ, !

                          Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                          • How Ukraines Next President Can Turn the Country Around
                            ATLANTIC COUNCIL ANDERS SLUND JANUARY 8, 2019

                            On March 31, Ukraine will hold the first round of its presidential election. This is a tremendous opportunity to restart Ukraines reforms. The election debate needs to focus on the most important issue, namely the enforcement of property rights.

                            Five years after the Revolution of Dignity and Russias invasion, Ukraines situation remains precarious. The rule of law has not been established. Scandalously, a Kyiv court just reinstated the former chairman of the State Fiscal Service in spite of major accusations of defrauding the state of $70 million, illustrating the persistent dysfunction of the judicial system. Similarly, the reform of the prosecution has failed, and the security services remain untouched.

                            The successful reforms have largely been economic. Inflation and the exchange rate have stabilized. Energy subsidies have been cut, bringing the budget close to balance. The payroll tax has been halved, which has reduced the shadow economy. The ProZorro electronic system has cleaned up much of public procurement. Corporate governance has improved in several big state companies and decentralization reform has endowed municipalities with new initiative.

                            Yet economic growth lingers at 3 percent when it should be at least 7 percent for a relatively poor country with open access to wealthy Europe.

                            Macroeconomic stability does not deliver economic growth if businessmen fear extortion or outright theft from corporate raiders. Cautiously, wealthy Ukrainians transfer their savings abroad and keep them out of reach of the authorities. Foreigners see that leading Ukrainians dare not invest and stay away. Thus, Ukraine has an investment ratio of barely 20 percent of GDP, when it should rise to 30 percent of GDP for a sound growth rate.

                            Therefore, the key demand in the presidential race should be the establishment of truly independent and impartial courts to endow Ukraine with reliable property rights. After the failure of judicial reform which was completed in 2017, Ukraine needs to include the foreign assessment of judges so that corrupt judges are dismissed. The same should be the case with prosecutors.

                            The economic crime part of the State Security Service (SBU) should be abolished. Instead, a new financial police agency should be established under the Ministry of Finance, as in the United States. That US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, has 350 officers, while the SBU has 8,000 officers supposed to deal with economic crimes, though they have not prosecuted any economic crime in living memory. If the presidential campaign does not lead to a new round of judicial reform, it has failed.

                            Ukrainians often complain about the oligarchs. This is convenient, because nobody in particular is criticized, just the system. But no successful legal reform is possible without clean leaders. The ultimate demand is that a new president is honest.

                            Ukraine suffers from monopolization of specific markets, usually through the prohibition of competitors by illicit means. Westerners tend to call for anti-trust and competition policies, but in Ukraine a more adequate answer is the establishment of the rule of law, simply allowing competitors. This should be popular since it leads to lower prices. Ukraine has already adopted laws to introduce real market prices for natural gas and electricity starting on July 1. Today the discussion should focus on how to make sure this really happens, not how to distort these prices.

                            Another traditional way of elite enrichment and political funding is to tap the 3,500 state companies through transfer pricing or corrupt procurement. The only plausible way out is rapid privatization of the vast majority of these companies in open auctions. Rather than starting with the big companies that are always difficult to sell, the State Property Fund should begin with small firms.

                            If economy is to take off, Ukraine needs to legalize sales of private agricultural land, which will greatly boost investment and returns on agricultural land.

                            But many things must not be done. First of all, politicians must not call for default or restructuring of the countrys foreign debt. Ukraine must honor its foreign debt in full not to be cut off from global financial markets. The country has no fiscal space to increase public expenditures or cut taxes without further cuts in public expenditures. Some politicians are strangely infatuated with an exit capital tax that would cut public revenues by about 1.5 percent of GDP, while these same people do not want to cut any expenditures. Why should wealthy enterprises benefit from a tax cut rather than poor Ukrainians?

                            The ultimate question is whether the March presidential election will be sufficiently free to allow for a democratic choice, or will money and media control decide the outcome?

                            æ, !

                            Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                            • Even Out of Government, Former Finance Minister Danyliuk Has Big Plans for Ukraine
                              ATLANTIC COUNCIL MELINDA HARING JANUARY 8, 2019

                              It was June 5 and Ukraines ebullient and energetic finance minister was under tremendous strain. The Economist had just reported that forty-three-year-old Oleksandr Danyliuk was about to be sacked after speaking out too many times about corruption at the highest levels. Hed made too many enemies, including the president and prime minister.

                              But Danyliuk is an optimist who brims with good humor even when hes under fire. Speaking with him in his office in Kyiv, I asked if he was worried. Im going to stay, he said decisively.

                              I asked jokingly, Whats your theme song? I Will Survive?

                              Too negative, he said. Without skipping a beat, he suggested with a laugh, We Are the Champions.

                              The next day, Danyliuk was indeed fired. But that light-hearted exchange captures the ex-minister well. He wants Ukraine to thrive, and he thinks he knows how to get there.

                              Now Danyliuk is out of government and can speak freely.

                              Im really worried about 2019, he said in another wide-ranging conversation on November 29 in Washington. Hes visiting Western capitals to sound the alarm about Ukraines problems. If the country doesnt reform, it will deteriorate, he said.

                              Its a pity that five years after the revolution we are back at this. He sees only old leaders and old stories on offer for the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. Something is clearly wrong. The IMF has invested billions of dollars in Ukraine, but its still Europes poorest country, said the former investment banker.

                              Sometimes you need a big shake to change the country, he said with a serious look in his eye. The shake he had in mind is radical. He thinks international financial institutions should have been tougher on Ukraine.

                              In 2017, he said the IMF should have stopped its $17.5 billion lending program altogether after Ukraine went back on its word twice. Ukraines leaders refused to liberalize gas prices and dragged their feet on the establishment of an anti-corruption court.

                              But Danyliuks worries extend beyond macroeconomics. While Ukraines economy is finally starting to grow, hes worried because of the November 2018 clash between the Russian and Ukrainian navies in the Black Sea and the 2019 elections. Political uncertainty and war are always bad for investment.

                              In spite of the hype about improvements in doing business in Ukrainethe country has set up several offices to promote business and started an ombudsmans office to address complaintsDanyliuk is decidedly unimpressed. Foreign direct investment hasnt changed much since the Euromaidan, ranging between $2.5 and 3 billion per year. $10 billion would be a big deal, he said.

                              To get there, Ukraine would need to embrace land market reform, privatization, and more energy reform, and would also have to reform the SBU and tax police.

                              In government, Danyliuk tried to champion these issues. One of his signature ideas was to reduce shakedowns on business. He wanted to slash the number of officials who investigate financial crimes in the SBU and among the police and tax policeoften the culprits behind these shakedownsfrom 15,000 to 3,000, and put the new unit under the minister of finance. Solving economic crimes is different from police work, he pointed out sensibly.

                              But President Petro Poroshenko insisted that the effort should be under him, not the finance ministry, and the effortlike many good ideas in Ukrainedied on the vine.

                              Rather than go back to Ukraines bruising politics where few reformers are still standing, Danyliuk has bigger, longer-term plans to turn the country around. He wants to start a new think tank that sees public policy in a holistic way. Think tanks in Kyiv are too specialized, he said, pointing out that war, national security, economic issues, and energy are all intertwined.

                              Danyliuk has pragmatic advice for future policy makers: if you want to fix a ministry, change the financing, as was done with health care in 2017. State financing now follows a patient and isnt automatically allocated to each hospital based on the number of beds.

                              He points to higher education, which is lousy, expensive, and bloated in Ukraine, largely because of lingering Soviet-era policies. Too many Ukrainians get a higher education financed by the state. While 40 percent of Europeans enroll in universities, in Ukraine, 80 percent of young people do. Instead, the state should finance the top 25 percent fully, pay 60 percent for the second 25 percent, and force everyone else to pay.

                              This isnt the only problem, though. The ministry of education decides how many lawyers Ukraine needs and allocates a certain number of spots each year for legal education. Danyliuk thinks the market should do that. You should trust people. This is their life, he says.

                              Give money to students and let families make their own decisions. Kids will go to the best universities, he said. Changing the financing would force bad universities out of business, which is OK by him, especially since Ukraines universities are not internationally competitive. On the Times Higher Education ratings, only one Ukrainian university makes the list.

                              State funding is also rigid. Students cannot take state funding to private universities like the highly regarded Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv or the Kyiv School of Economics, which raise all of their funds privately. Indeed, the state regulates even the scholarship criteria for the allocation of private scholarships at private universities.

                              Danyliuk says that the state could save 50 percent if it finally de-Sovietized its higher education system.

                              Now out of government, the former minister may finally have the time he needs to devise a strategy to give Ukraine the big shake it needs.

                              æ, !

                              Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp


                              • Dispatch from the Road: Ukraines Most Impressive Civil Society Project Is Where?
                                ATLANTIC COUNCIL Melinda Haring January 8, 2019

                                One could be forgiven for mistaking thirty-six-year-old Yuriy Fylyuk as just another of the bearded foodie entrepreneurs who dominate Ukraines culinary scene. But the soft spoken Fylyuk is far more.

                                Yevhen Hlibovytsky, high priest of Ukraines civil society and partner at the Pro.mova consulting firm, has yanked me out of Kyiv to see what he describes as the most impressive civil society project in the countryin Ivano-Frankivsk, a town of 230,000 in western Ukraine. The details are scant, but anytime Hlibovytsky offers to take you on a road trip, the answer is, Absolutely.

                                At the Kyiv Boryspil airport, Hlibovytsky introduces me to Fylyuk, who started his day in Odesa and will end it in Ivano-Frankivsk. Fylyuk is a businessman, dreamer, and revolutionary who says hes trying to make a middle class revolution in Ukraine.

                                In Ivano-Frankivsk, Fylyuk and the Teple Misto nongovernmental organization he oversees built Urban Space 100, a smart, glass-paneled restaurant with vibrant murals that would easily fit in Brooklyn or Portland. It provides space for ordinary people to meet and discuss ideas while enjoying a good meal.

                                Its a community restaurant, which means that Fylyuk got the start-up capital from one hundred people who invested $1,000 each. Twenty percent of the income covers costs, while 80 percent funds program ideas. The restaurant is democratically run and includes regular meetings where investors decide which civil society projects to back.

                                Sitting directly across the street from the city administration building, Urban Space 100 offers a physical space for debate on subjects that were previously off-limits. For example, its staff brought lawyers, developers, and an architect togetherwith a neutral moderatorto prevent developers from destroying the areas parks. To date, it has held 260 public discussions and 900 events.

                                To an American reader, a physical space to discuss public issues may sound pedestrian, but its hard to overstate how important it is in Ukraine, where there are virtually no third places consistently available for such use.

                                Having a neutral space for debate is especially important in a one-party town like Ivano-Frankivsk, which is dominated by Svoboda, a populist, conservative, religious party. (Pat Buchanan is the closest equivalent in US terms.)

                                During the Soviet period, Ivano-Frankivsk was a closed region. Its location, relative isolation, lack of capital, and limited access to education make economic development and interconnectedness a challenge. However, the Hutsul culture of self-reliance makes practically everyone a go-getter. Its chock full of entrepreneurial zeal, Hlibovytsky notes. DIY [do it yourself] is in the blood, he says.

                                Plus, the roads have improved, as have rail links, so Ivano-Frankivsk is enjoying a bit of a boom from weekend tourism and skiers on their way to the Carpathian Mountains two hours south.

                                But thats not all.

                                Before starting Urban Space 100 in 2014, Fylyuk and his partners opened five new restaurants in Ivano-Frankivsk, including Fabbrica, an award-winning Italian restaurant with ingredients sourced wholly from Ukraine.

                                Fylyuk shows me his homemade pasta machine and proudly points to the purple beet-infused linguini noodles that are drying. The thoughtfully laid out restaurant, mostly wood and brick, is two floors and includes a space for children to play. It takes no imagination to see my daughter boiling water in the childrens play area and I easily forget that Im not in Washington, DC.

                                Over the meal, Fylyuk shyly enquires if I like the meal and starts to relax. He lives in Ivano-Frankivsk part of the time, but travels constantly to raise capital for his next projectwhich may be his most ambitious yet.

                                As we pull up to an old Soviet factory that takes up an entire city block, its raining and the uncovered metal staircase is rickety and slippery. Neither Fylyuk nor Hlibovytsky have told me exactly what this dark, neglected place, the Promprylad factory, is as we wind our way through sheetrock and exposed lightbulbs to the third floor.

                                There, Fylyuk smiles and gestures to 1,800 square meters of finished commercial space that already includes sixteen businesses. Eight businesses line each side of a long hallway where tables and chairs are set out for people to hang out. Its late and the space is empty.

                                Normally, its a beehive of activity, Hlibovytsky says. The design is intentional: plate-glass fronts are meant to convey open-mindedness, creativity, friendliness, and a desire to share ideas with others.

                                æ, !

                                Hannia - Hania - Mighthelp